Marketing

5 ways marketers can thrive in the age of the empowered customer

5 ways marketers can thrive in the age of the empowered customer

The marketer‰’s job used to be straightforward. ‰”Mad men‰”, as the show of the same name explains, was a ‰”term coined in the late 1950s to describe the advertising executives of Madison Avenue.‰” Their main job was to use their creativity to come up with a memorable slogan, a unique logo or a clever ad spot.

How times have changed. The role of marketers today is more complicated and more demanding. We‰’re expected to be the voice of the customer within the company. We‰’re expected to listen to and engage customers in more channels, usually 24-7. The speed of innovation also presents its own set of challenges.

We are now in an age where customers have more information, more choices and more opportunities to say what‰’s on their mind more than ever. And in the age of the empowered customer, marketers are expected to be able to do it all. We‰’ve gone from mad men (and women) to supermen and superwomen.

With so much on our plates, what does it take to thrive as a marketer today? We have to prioritize, of course, but the following are important tenets we need to live by to flourish in our jobs today.

  1. Accept your new mandate.

The first step is to recognize the reality of our jobs. Instead of seeing empowered customers as yet another stakeholder group to satisfy, embrace your role as the person who gets to bring their voices into your internal meetings and decision-making processes.

And that‰’s easier than ever, because the same trends that drive the customer revolution are the same tools that can connect us with our customers. The explosion of tablet and mobile use means we have more opportunities to reach customers. With the wealth of transactional and behavioral data available at our disposal, we can easily learn what people have done in the past. And with social media and online customer communities, we can get to know customers better.

Let go of the past, look at new opportunities to engage customers, and accept your mandate as marketers, technologists and data scientists moving forward.

  1. Hire the right team.

The culture of unrelenting innovation requires marketers to constantly update their skills and acquire new ones. The types of people that will lead tomorrow‰’s marketing strategies will have skillsets that differ from yesterday‰’s marketers. Your team today needs to be data-driven and technology literate, social media-savvy and entrepreneurial. They need a deep appreciation of what it takes to build relationships with customers.

To succeed as marketers today, we need to start identifying the right people and recruiting them now. As customers are given more choices and more opportunities to broadcast their opinions, it becomes increasingly important to surround yourself with people who are already doing the things that will be required of future CMOs.

  1. Be metric-driven.

Business intelligence and customer intelligence platforms are becoming smarter everyday. And both industries continue to grow: according to Gartner, the business intelligence software market grew by 8% in 2013 as companies such as SAP, IBM and Oracle continue to see increasing demand. Gartner also predicts that by 2017, more than half of consumer goods manufacturers will tap crowdsourced solutions such as online communities to drive up to 75% of their R&D capabilities.

Your customers today expect personalization. They want seamless experience. They want to control their own experience. And frankly, why shouldn‰’t they expect these things? We have the data and the tools required to meet these expectations. Marketers today simply don‰’t have any good excuse for not using data and customer insight to drive business decisions.

We should think of our jobs as a hybrid of creativity, technology and analysis: by combining creativity with hard data, we move one step closer to providing what our customers want. Most importantly, we should be talking to our customers on an ongoing basis to validate what we see in our data and deliver an even more compelling experience.

  1. Build trust.

To survive the customer revolution, we need to be open and work with our customers. For a while, marketers saw customers as transactions. Now, however, technology allows us to build relationships and trust in the long run. We should use technologies such as social media and insight communities to deepen our relationship with our customers. And to build this trust, we not only have to ask for input; we have to be prepared to share information back and be transparent in how we‰’re using people‰’s feedback in our decisions.

  1. Focus on revenue.

Demand generation has long been an important marketing metric, but in today‰’s technology-driven era, tying marketing activity back to leads and ultimately revenue is more important than ever. While we need to deal with the increasing complexity of our jobs, we shouldn‰’t lose sight of the fact that our main job is to drive sales and revenue. The way to do this is by building a relationship with the customer, using their collective wisdom to make strategic decisions that are based on customer input and data.

While the CMO job today is increasingly becoming more complex, it‰’s also a lot more strategic. Businesses see the importance of CMOs today: Not only are CMO tenures going up, CEOs also indicate that they increasingly rely on CMOs for strategic input. We may not have super powers, but with the help of the empowered customer, we are well positioned to crush the competition and be the superhero that our customers are looking for.

To learn more about thriving as a marketer in the age of the empowered customer, download our free ebook, Six Commandments for Surviving the Customer Revolution.

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